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Study sheds light on aromatase inhibitor joint pain syndrome
Date:11/8/2010

Breast cancer patients are more likely to have joint pain from taking aromatase inhibitors (AIs) if they have advanced stage cancer, according to a study presented at the American College of Rheumatology's annual meeting, held Nov. 7-11, in Atlanta. The study is one of the first to identify factors that increase the likelihood that a patient will suffer joint pain from AI therapy.

AIs, the standard adjuvant therapy for post-menopausal breast cancer, can cause joint pain in patients, mostly in the hands and wrists. This pain can sometimes be debilitating. "Patients complain bitterly about this pain that they can get in their hands after starting these medications," said Lisa Mandl, M.D., an assistant attending rheumatologist at Hospital for Special Surgery in New York, who was involved with the study. "It is so bad that sometimes patients stop taking AIs, even though we know the drugs are literally life-savingthey decrease the risk of dying from breast cancer." Studies have shown that up to 15% of patients on AIs discontinue their therapy due to pain.

Because few clinical trials have characterized this syndrome, investigators at Hospital for Special Surgery launched a prospective study to shed some light on the condition. "Nobody has really properly described this syndrome or tried to figure out what might predict you getting it," said Dr. Mandl. "What is the pain? Is it joint arthritis? Is it tendonitis? Is it inflammation of the muscle? We wanted to describe it better than it has been described in the literature to date."

The investigators enrolled 35 post-menopausal women with hormone-sensitive, non-metastatic breast cancer who didn't have rheumatic disease. Subjects were evaluated at baseline, at three months, and at six months after starting aromatase inhibitor therapy. They underwent physical exams and filled out questionnaires about quality of life, health status and pain. Patients also underwent magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
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Contact: Phyllis Fisher
phyllis.fisher@gmail.com
212-606-1197
Hospital for Special Surgery
Source:Eurekalert

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